‘When I draw, I tell a story about forms. No matter what the ‘object’ of my attention might be, the drawing narrates spatial postures, it records the track of the movements in space made by volumes or lines, linear objects. The spider’s thread borne away on the wind is a flying line. Drawing owes a huge amount to the energy with which the hand traces lines and the character of this energy is determined by the character, the mood, the culture, the vision of the artist. In fact, it is a mysterious phenomenon. To trace a line, a simple line, with the feeling and awareness that you are producing expression; that line is necessary to you beyond reason. To me, drawing is not simply a profession; it is the release of an intrinsic, structural energy, a joy.’ (Geta Brătescu, 2008, diary excerpt.)
Hauser & Wirth presents ‘Geta Brătescu. The Power of the Line’. The exhibition features an important body of works from the past decade, during which time Brătescu focused predominantly on working with the line as a structuring principle.
The exhibition was conceived over the last year in conjunction with the artist and in close collaboration with Marian Ivan and Diana Ursan of Ivan Gallery.
One of the first representatives of conceptualist approaches in Romania, Brătescu’s oeuvre comprises drawing, collage, textiles, photography, experimental film and performance. Over the course of a seven-decade career she developed a deeply personal practice which mines themes of identity, gender, and dematerialisation. Brătescu’s recent international recognition provided a basis for the re-evaluation of her more experimental work within the framework of conceptual practices.
For Brătescu, the line is manifest in the movement of the artist’s hand in space as it handles the pencil, the marker or the scissors, creating a flow of shapes, forms and sometimes even silhouettes. This can be seen in the striking series of drawings executed ‘with the eyes closed’ that feature in the leporello ‘Armstrong’ (2005) and in the film ‘Linea (The Line)’ (2014). The carefully selected body of works in the exhibition render the different means in which Brătescu engaged the primordial unit of the line – in curved, hard-edged, contained or spread compositions. A vibrant proliferation of ideas, experiments with colour and line, can be seen in ‘Untitled (The Line – Game of Forms)’ (2013), a remarkable 35 part work that comprises collage and drawings.
Brătescu’s approach to materials evolved from an attitude towards her studio as both a physical and psychological space, a safe environment of enclosure as well as a stage for creative invention. She frequently used lo-fi, handmade, inexpensive and everyday materials and this intimate aesthetic appears in works which incorporate torn paper, coffee sticks, and match boxes such as ‘Untitled (Fără titlu)’ (2013).
The exhibition coincides with a book from Hauser & Wirth Publishers entitled ‘Geta Brătescu: Game of Forms’. During her lifetime Brătescu published a number of books documenting her daily studio activities and personal experiences. This new title focuses on Brătescu’s recent work, accompanied by excerpts from her diaries dating from 2008 through to 2017.© The Estate of Geta Brătescu. Courtesy the Estate of Geta Brătescu, Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Alex Delfanne